A non-stop week, but I've ducked out of a dinner tonight to catch up on emails which I haven't had a chance to go through for a few days, and to update a few details from the SF trip.
The first few days of the holiday were spent in San Francisco, relaxing and reading in cafes and working out what the next days should hold. I'd been to San Francisco a few times before, the previous two for work at SLAC and hadn't had much chance to explore the city so this was a good, relaxed few days taking in the atmosphere.
I headed out to the piers to find the Golden Gate Bridge, only to remember that it couldn't be seen from there. The fishermen there made for some good compositions though so I took advantage of the contrasts and spent some time chatting with the Chinese fishermen.
couchsurfing in Ocean Beach, an area that I'd never explored previously. It turned out to have a completely different atmosphere from the rest of SF that I know and it's even more laid back than the rest of what is known to be a pretty chilled place. The weather was perfect and I'd scouted out the line on the beach previously from where I was hoping to catch the sunset. I headed there with my couchsurfing host and sat on top of a sand dune watching the sun descend. The sky was clear, but the convection currents of rising warm air made for layers in the sky above the ocean of more and less dense air. These different layers, called temperature inversions because the temperature does not go linearly down with altitude, cause the sun's rays to be refracted in complex ways and force the otherwise circular image to be distorted as it sets. These are the perfect conditions for green flash sunsets. Before it had gotten into its final stages of descent a flock of birds flew past, signalling the beginning of what was to be an exciting atmospheric optics session:
mirage of the sun above. Another disconnection in this one had also appeared above the sun:
Atmospheric Optics website.
Anyway, from San Francisco I went on a three day trip to Yosemite, but these stories and pictures will have to wait...